on being the 15.1%
This is a letter to my friends, you don’t have to know or love me to appreciate it, but for those of you who do…please know that I am thinking about you personally as I post this and I want so much to tell you all about our experience. I ask you to forgive me for not calling; please understand that I simply haven’t had the emotional energy the last few days to go through this multiple times.
I will start by telling you the ending, and then the beginning, and fill in the details…ready?
The ending: HJ and I are completely fine, safe and sound.
The beginning: on Sunday night we ran smack into a deer – while riding our motorcycle.
The middle: as a general rule, we don’t often ride at night, in fact this summer we’ve barely been on the bike at all which was one of the reasons we decided to ride over to visit friends Sunday afternoon. During dinner we talked about the fact that youth season had just started for deer hunting and the deer would be moving out on to the roads more now and the need to be aware and cautious. We also discussed a mutual acquaintance who passed away last week from a motorcycle accident, we grieved for his wife and young daughters in their loss and wondered why it happened… We had a lovely time together, laughing about silly things, talking about serious things and once it got dark, trying to see the lunar eclipse through the clouds.
When we took off I was wearing a light hoodie because the back of the bike is always more windy and I chill easily. HJ had thought he had his riding jacket in the side compartment, but when he couldn’t find it, decided that it was fairly warm yet and he’d be fine. We’d gone about three miles down the road when a small deer stepped right out in front of us. There was no time to do anything but run right into it (as you should, actually).
There are a couple of snapshot memories in my mind from the moments of the accident. The first is seeing the deer step out in front of us and knowing that we would be hitting and wrecking. It was just an understood in my mind. Then we were leaning leaning leaning to the left (thank you Jesus) and then the bike was skidding away from us and it looked really beautiful with the sparks flying off of it in the dark night while metal scraped against asphalt. There was the moment that I was spinning on my back, looking up at the sky and thinking about how it had finally cleared up, I could see the stars, but still not that lunar eclipse. Then, I wasn’t spinning anymore, I was lying on the side of the road, standing up, calling out to John at the same time he was calling to me from about eight feet away. We both said each other’s names and “I’m alive, are you ok?”
I had just looked at my shirt and saw that the sleeves were completely shredded and knew that I was probably hurt underneath that, but I couldn’t feel any pain yet. As HJ was walking toward me I saw that his pinkie finger was terribly cut and dripping blood. I was aware of both of those things at the same time that I looked down at the road and saw a liver laying there; I asked him in complete seriousness if it was one of ours. It was from the deer though, whew!
A man came dashing through the woods with a flashlight just as we were getting on our feet, he called out that help was on the way; his dad was on the phone with 911. They had heard the impact and thought that a car had hit a pole. That was fascinating to me, because I don’t have any memory of sound at all until HJ spoke my name. Everything had been completely silent.
The next hour was spent with police officers, EMTs, our friends whose house we had just left and had called almost immediately. Since HJ had just been in short sleeves his arms were terribly road rashed, I had some, but my shirt had taken the brunt. The pockets of our jeans were torn up and our boots had long scuff marks down the leather. Neither of us had a broken bone or any lacerations.
We had signed off on going to the hospital, but when we woke up Mon morning I thought we’d made a huge mistake. The EMTs had bandaged our arms, but not cleaned them first, and I realized that process was going to be a whole new level of pain that I wasn’t emotionally prepared for. If we had gone to the ER we would have at least had access to pain meds while they cleaned out the dirt and grime. I called Sis to see if she could come brush out my hair, (I can’t reach my arms very far and HJ’s hands are cut up) she ended up taking the morning off of work and sitting for several hours, carefully and gently cleaning our wounds. What could have been a really traumatic time was a sweet (still painful) experience with my sister ministering to our bodies so graciously.
My two other sisters and their husbands came throughout the day on Monday to be with us, to hold us and know for themselves that we were ok. BabySister brought supper and then my sweet stepdaughter and her family brought supper last night. It’s been a strange experience for me to be on the receiving end of this kind of help. I’m the supper-taker, not the supper-getter. It feels so nice though, like a warm blanket right out of the dryer (without any annoying static shock) and a great reminder for me to look for opportunities to be there for my people and offer a helping hand, because it really does mean so much!
Monday and Tuesday were fairly good days over all, I even went to the office yesterday for a couple of hours, but quickly realized that I’d need to spend the next few days working remote from home, where I can stand and not let stiffness set in. I’m grateful that is an option for me! I had thought after two good days we were out of the woods. I thought wrong. Last night was really difficult for both of us, lots of pain and little sleep. Today we are discovering new bruises and everything hurts. I am trying to focus on the fact that the pain means that our bodies are doing their job and healing. To be perfectly honest, I’m grateful for the pain, it’s another reminder that we can still feel; we aren’t paralyzed.
The title for this post comes from the fact that 84.9% of all motorcycle/deer collisions end in human fatality. Just writing that makes my stomach hurt. If you had asked me on Monday morning how far we slid after hitting the deer, I would have said maybe about ten feet. We went out that afternoon though to see the accident site and HJ measured off 240 feet from impact to where the bike landed. I was about four feet from the bike and he was a little farther away. I’m tearing up again at that because I don’t understand why I’m here to tell you this story.
We have heard a lot of “you’re so lucky”, “God has big plans for you”, “someone was really looking out for you” and I know those things are true, but it’s really difficult for me. I told an EMT that I had said a prayer asking for protection as I always do when we climb on the bike, and that my parents have carried my name to Jesus every single day of my life – I believe in the power of prayer, especially my Dad and Momma’s prayers – but here’s the thing… there are a lot of parents who have prayed faithfully and fervently for children who have died or suffered unspeakable things. Saying that “God was looking out for me” implies that maybe God wasn’t looking out for the many other people who’s stories have ended so differently and I know that is simply not true. I have decided to rest in the fact that we were given a gift, not because we deserve it or have earned it or done something better than someone else. The conclusion that I’ve come to regarding why our bodies were two-thirds of a football field away from where they started, without any real damage to speak of, is that our guardian angels carried and cushioned us. I don’t care how crazy that sounds; I know that is what happened.
To say that we are grateful is the understatement of the century. It’s always been important to both of us to live in the moment, to really experience life and not waste time taking our days for granted. I can’t say that this has given us an epiphany about living life to the fullest, because that’s what we always try to do. I can say that I have a huge need for my people right now. I want to be with you, to hug you, to hear about your life. I want to laugh together, I want you to tell me what is in your heart, what you are worried about and what you are hoping for. You’re welcome to call and text us, it won’t be any bother. If you’re local, feel free to stop by. When I can get out of bed in less than five minutes, let’s go to breakfast and drink all of the coffee.
It was a very intentional decision to not talk about this on social media. In our local community alone there are several families still reeling from loved ones having been killed or still laying in a coma weeks after a motorcycle accident. I want to give God all of the glory and praise He is due for granting us this extension, while at the same time being sensitive to the pain of others.
Please be aware of motorcycles. Please watch out for deer. If you ride, please wear your helmets and riding jackets (even when it’s warm).